For bakers looking to maximise on technology, premixes and improvers continue to offer a cost-effective method to develop on-trend products with a healthy shelf-life. Last year’s recession saw some talk of bakers returning to baking from scratch to cut costs, but for most, the consensus emerged that to bake the best products, good premixes and improvers are a must-have.

This is not least because manufacturers invest millions in developing products that are at the forefront of consumer desirability. You only have to browse the list of the emerging premixes and improvers to see that seeded loaves and gluten-free products are likely to make you money as the producers have done the research on your behalf. Also, the latest products are ahead of the game when it comes to the growing demand for clean-label, low-GI and baked products that fall in line with the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) criteria for salt and sugar. So what’s out there?

The dark side

The past few years have been characterised by an increased interest in Scandinavian-style sourdough and rye breads, which have caught the consumer imagination as healthy products, with dark and robust flavours and textures. Edme has caught on to the trend with the innovation of a new bread concentrate, ’ChocMalt’, a multigrain base with a rich, dark crumb and crunchy seeded texture.

Practical innovation

Making life easier in the bakery is always a priority for busy bakers, which is why manufacturers work hard to create practical products. Cereform has recently developed a liquid dough improver, which can overcome many of the problems associated with the powder versions. Aqua 4+ is lighter and more compact than powder mix versions and comes with a handy dispenser, so there’s no need to weigh out loose product. Combine this with a cost-effective price tag, and you’ve got one less airborne dust producer to worry about.

Different grains

While the UK specialises in wheat baking, our US cousins have always enjoyed cornbreads. So with many customers looking to reduce their consumption of gluten-free-grains it was only a matter of time before bakers began searching for a way to utilise this golden grain in their loaves. Ireks now makes a premix for use at 50% ratios, which contains corn, sunflower seeds and spices. Corn can also offer nutritional benefits, including iron, calcium and zinc.

Functional additions

Functional ingredients for bread have been gaining steady popularity over the past few years. Although the recession slowed the innovations, they are picking back up for 2010. In the past we saw prebiotics become a viable improver for breads, and now LCI has launched Absolute Wheat a nutritional concentrate of white wheat.

The product retains all the desirable qualities of white wheat flour, but advanced processes have refined and concentrated the nutritional components found in the natural product. It boasts ’clean label’, as well as ease of use and an appealing colour.

Low sodium

Healthier choices are a continuing trend, and tackling sodium content is an important measure particularly for those using traffic light labelling. CSM UK’s new Arkady Soft Roll Improvers are suited to both craft and larger-scale bakers and are one of a few improvers to meet the FSA’s standards for less than 1g of salt per 100g of product.

Back to basics

Malt was the original bread improver, but fell out of favour with the introduction of compound dough conditioners. But malting expert Edme has developed a malt-flour-based-improver, Ryactive, which exploits the naturally occurring grain enzymes of the malting process. What’s more, it offers similar volume and crumb softness benefits to conventional enzyme-based bread improvers when used in oven bottom breads.

Nuts and seeds

Seeded loaves and breads look set for further popularity. This year has seen the launch of CSM UK’s Arkady Multiseed Bread Con-centrate, which contains sunflower seeds, linseed, pumpkin seeds and oat kernels.

British Bakels has also joined the trend, with the release of Country Oven Multiseed, while Rank Hovis’ Multiseed flour offers another option to extend your range.